The Autonomous Harvest System will be sold as a kit that can be installed on a tractor and combine. The tractor requires most of the equipment, which ties into the transmission, steering and braking systems, Schildroth says, and will need to be specific for different brands and models. He says Kinze plans to develop individual vehicle kits.

“The brains of the system are high-speed, ruggedized computers that are housed in the tractor,” Schildroth explains. “Those brains take all the sensor information and GPS locations and determine in real time the most efficient path the tractor must take to reach the combine. And if there’s an obstacle, it takes a path around it if it can, or it stops.”

Schildroth listed other equipment used to safely operate the autonomous system:

■  GPS is needed in both the combine and the tractor to provide location and positioning information.

■  Inertial sensors are installed on the tractor to detail the dynamics of what’s happening, Schildroth explains.

■  If the vehicle is tilting, the system will compensate  for it.

■  Wheel encoders on the tractor report speed.

■  Lidar sensors on the tractor are sophisticated scanners to tell what is immediately around the vehicle.

■  Radar on the tractor offers a view of what is further ahead of the vehicle.

■  Cameras installed on the tractor do a visual recognition to identify shapes that could be human or animal. The combine operator can check a camera view from the tablet computer.

■ A communications module keeps the combine talking to the autonomous system.